March 23, 2010

Taking the Pledge...

Today's Oprah show was about distracted driving. Mostly texting while driving and the dangers this multi-tasking causes on area roadways. Several guests on the program have been deeply effected by these actions; their fathers, mothers, children, sisters, brothers have died - all because of the result of someones actions - actions like texting while driving. I was totally blown away by these stories and feel it is a good idea to spread the word on how dangerous driving while distracted by our cell phones can be.

Here is a link to the entire show: Distracted Driving - Full Episode

Please consider watching it. I know it's a long video (approx 41 minutes), and I understand if you don't have time at this moment to watch the entire show. However, if you can spare 8 minutes and watch the first family's story, I believe you will see how important this issue is in our country.

One thing Oprah is encouraging is for people to take action and make a change in their own lives. She's launched the No Phone Zone contract and hopes that people will consider taking the pledge and not use their cell phones while driving. After seeing how devastating texting and driving can be to peoples lives, I have signed up for the pledge. I will no longer text and drive. I will not be checking Facebook on my smart phone while behind the wheel. I will only make and/or answer phone calls in an emergency situation. And should I feel the need to send a text or make a phone call, I will make every effort to pull over to the side of the road or in a parking lot - then I will handle that all important text or phone call.

If I have inspired at least one person to join in this movement with me, then this has been time well spent. Consider signing the "No Phone Zone" pledge - just click here for more information.
Thanks for listening.

March 20, 2010

Tasty Kitchen's Mushroom Soup

When I found this recipe, I knew that I'd soon be rushing out to the store to pick up the ingredients. Anyone who knows me really well knows my love for mushrooms runs deep, I mean deep - like if I weren't already married, I might marry mushrooms (well, not really, but you get what I'm saying!) After a quick trip to the store, I turned on some music (Iron & Wine's latest CD for those who are interested) and spent the afternoon whipping up this delicious soup.

Here's my take on The Mushroom Soup - definitely check out the link for the ingredient list & detailed cooking directions. I really enjoyed this dish and cooked it just like the recipe recommends. However I will make a few changes for the next time I make this soup - I'll note my changes/additions under each photo of the cooking process...

Finley chopped carrots, celery and slice mushrooms (I ended up doubling the amount of mushrooms shown in this photo.)

White wine, chicken broth, tomato juice, heavy whipping cream, shredded parmesan cheese

Saute carrots & celery together (next time I'll throw in some garlic). Then add mushrooms and cook for several minutes - this is when it starts to smelling delicious...
Add white wine and cook mixture together for a few more minutes. (I used Pinot Grigo because that's what I like to drink, but the recipe calls for Chablis White Wine). (At this point, I added a spoon full of tomato paste to thicken things up.)

Mix in tomato juice, cooking for a bit, then add in the heavy cream. (Next time, I'll use much less cream here - it calls for a pint, which I thought was way too much.) Add in the parmesan cheese after the liquids have cooked together (this is another thing I'll change for next time - I think you can reduce the cheese by half and still add great flavor.)

Ta-Dahhh...the finished product! I toasted up a loaf of french bread for dunking and it was delicious. If you are a mushroom lover, then this soup is right up your alley.

March 17, 2010

Luck of the Irish

Old Irish Blessing
May the road rise to meet you: May the wind be always at your back, The sun shine warm upon your face, The rain fall soft upon your fields, And until we meet again May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

Who doesn't love being a "little" Irish on St. Patrick's Day?! Cheers to you my blog readers - I hope you have a safe and happy St. Patty's Day. (PS - how cute is the Irish Care Bear...reminds me of my younger days!)

March 09, 2010

I'm So Ready....

for Spring! The weather in the 'nati the past couple of days has been glorious - low to mid 60s & sunny! The birds are chirping, the dogs are barking and people are out & about walking in the neighborhood. One of the local meterologist around here says he thinks there will probably be one more big snow for our area before old man winter is officially over. I accept this notion, but will be living it up in this wonderful weather we've been having, which is supposed to stick around for a few more days!

This past weekend was spent visiting with great friends, endulging in yummy cocktails, delicious dinners and even desserts. It was a great way to spend my time away from work and one other thing I did this weekend was enjoy taking Miss Ella on a big walk. JJ and I headed out on Sunday afternoon to cruise the neighborhood and let Ella burn off some energy. She was too cute, prancing down the streets with her ears back and her tail wagging straight up in the air. I have a feeling she's going to be one happy girl this week, exploring that thing in the backyard called grass (and mudd), which she hasn't seen in a long time b/c of some stuff called snow.

I'm looking forward to so many things this Spring - dusting off the ol' Dolce for some bike rides, walking (maybe jogging - gasp!) with my girl Ella in the afternoons, getting my hands dirty in the flower beds around the house. So many good things to look forward to this time of year.

There's got to be some type of drug (more than just Vitamin D) pumped out when the sun shines, because it sure does make lots of people feel super good.

So come on Spring - stay awhile why don't you!

March 01, 2010

Facebooking, Tweeting, and Foursquare?

Are you on Facebook, updating your status anytime something new comes to mind? Do you send out Tweets to your followers on Twitter, letting them know you thoughts on something (in 140 characters or less)? How about Foursquare, do you check in to various locations, hoping to become the Mayor of your latest visited hot spot?

I'm on Facebook (FB), with a profile set up where I post some pictures, update my status and post messages on "friends" walls every now and then. Almost everyone I know maintains a Facebook page - my Mom has one, my college friends have them, most of my cousins (older and younger) are on FB. For the most part, I enjoy Facebook - sure, there are some aspects that annoy me - like Farmville, Mafia Wars, and who become friends with whom, not to mention Facebook's ever changing layout and policies. What I have done to make my FB experience better for me is I've learned how to "hide" certain applications. That's right FB friends, I'm not going to help you earn more animals for your "farm" and I'm not interested in reading your daily horoscope! I've also made sure that my profile is set up to private and only "my friends" can view my pics and wall postings. The problem here is that as soon as you join FB, you get like 500 friend requests and since your new to FB, you probably accepted all those people, who can now view all those pictures. Recently, I've edited my group of "friends" and have decided to de-friend (that's right, I said it) a select few - not everyone from my past, but some of the initial people who I friended but haven't even had one interaction with since I've been a member. All in all, I'm a fan of Facebook and find it a fun way to interact with people.

Now onto Twitter - this past weekend I spent some time with a dear friend, who is an avid Twitterer. She is well know on the Twitter front and has met a tons of new people through this type of social interaction. Even though I do find myself checking in on her Tweets to see what she's up to, I have no desire to join this social movement. It does surprise me how many people and businesses do have accounts and send out daily Tweets. Media outlets Tweet now - sending out "breaking news alerts", Cincinnati's street department Tweets - sending out info on local roadways, local and national politicians are on Twitter now - even school systems are Tweeting their students now when classes are cancelled because of weather conditions. You get the gist here, lots of people are using this and with our iPhones, Droids, and other Smart Phone devices, it makes it very easy to instantaneously keep up with your followers and Tweet back your thoughts on whatever subject is out there.

And how about Foursquare? This one is so new to me that I don't have much to comment on. Lots of people I know use it and say it's a good way to learn where someone has been and find out where they might be headed next.

(Hmmm - Something about that last sentence makes me think of stalking - Anyways...)

I go off on all these tangents to ask this simple question: Is social networking making people more anti-social? Is it taking away the basic need for human, face-to-face interaction? First there was a new thing called Email - which is still widely used, but most "youngster's" would rather leave you a wall post or send you a private message on FB to get your attention. So sites like Facebook & Twitter have replaced Emailing in some people's mind. What's next for the generations ahead? How will they interact with one another & what will it be called? One can only begin to speculate.

Maybe someday I'll be Tweeting about where I'm getting my hair done - Maybe someday I'll be the Mayor of the Starbucks near my house on Foursquare. Who knows, but to all my friends out there, I'd like to state for the record that I'd much rather have a cup of coffee you in person, see those pics of your kids in person and talk to you about what you've been up to in person - yes, all of that I'd much rather do in person, instead of reading it on your latest FB status or checking in on your most recent Tweet.

Now, let me go update my FB status ... about my new blog post!